A report in January, “Women, Race and Wealth” by researchers at Duke University and the Oakland-based Insight Center for Community Economic Development, suggests that single college-educated Back women have significantly less wealth than single White females of the same age.
The Insight Center for Community Economic Development is a national research, consulting, and legal organization dedicated to building economic health in vulnerable communities.
The report indicates that single Black with a bachelor’s degree, for example, have a median net worth of $11,000 compared to single White females, in the same category, who have a median wealth of $384,400. In the prime working years—ages 36 to 49—single Black women have only $5 in median wealth compared to the $42,600 that single White women may possess.
Apparently, the unearned birthright of inheritance or other family transfers is the largest factor erecting barriers to wealth accumulation for people of color, reported Anne Price, president of the Insight Center. Price has spent more than 20 years working in the public sector on issues including child welfare, hunger, welfare reform, workforce development, community development, and higher education. Since 2011, Price has led the “Closing the Racial Wealth Gap” initiative at the Insight Center, elevating the voices and opinions of experts of color in national economic debates and policy making. Her work has brought the issue of the racial wealth gap into the forefront of discussion with unprecedented media coverage of the data and research quantifying racial differences in wealth accumulation.
Intergenerational transfer is said to be a central source of wealth building. White families have had significantly more time to pass down assets across generations. This generational transfer includes items such as financing a child’s education or providing down payments for houses.
Most Black families, however, have never had comparable resources to pass down to succeeding generations. Consequently, Black families whose members have college degrees may remain hindered in their efforts to generate the resources necessary for their own security and to ensure the well-being of their children, said Price.
Price added that changing this reality will not be easy.
“I think this idea that Blacks or other communities of color can simply turn things around is based on the idea that folks can ‘pull themselves up by the bootstraps’ and fails to account for the fact that the wealth that Black women hold reflects decades of policy decisions that have limited the ability of Blacks to build wealth over generations. Blacks were either left out or marginalized out of policies like the GI Bill and the New Deal that helped to propel the White middle class and White suburbs said Price.
Price said consideration should be made of how African Americans had land taken and sometimes businesses. Historic job discrimination, she added, and occupational segregation have all had effects on current conditions.
“The key is that Black women are working hard and going to college and Blacks and Whites have comparable savings rates. They are doing the right things; they just don’t have a lot of wealth to start with (because their parents and grandparents didn’t have much wealth to pass down) which makes it harder to build wealth overtime,” Price said.